A popular and successful fundraiser, a rubber duck race is—you guessed it—a race with rubber ducks. Seriously, in a nutshell, ducks are sold to contestants. The ducks are dropped into a river or creek. First duck to the finish line is the winner. Prizes are donated by local merchants.

Here’s how to pull off a successful rubber duck race fundraiser.

  • Get your volunteer team together. Find out who doesn’t mind getting wet in a creek or river. Divide up the duties. For starters you’ll need duck salespeople, registration folks, duck wranglers in kayaks and canoes, and other assorted event people.


A planning cycle of 3 or more months is recommended.

  • What are you monetary goals? How many ducks do you think you can you sell? This will largely determine how many ducks you need to buy beforehand. You’ll have the initial outlay of buying the ducks, but you’ll make this back from sales. And you’ll have the ducks for next year and for years after.


Rubber Duck Fundraising Ideas

Another option is to find an area sponsor to underwrite the cost of the ducks.

Buy ducks on-line for about 60 cents each depending on volume.

  • Ducks are typically sold or “adopted” for $5. They’re not physically sold. The buyer gets a ticket with a number that will correspond to the duck’s number, like a raffle ticket. Record the contestants name and phone number and/or email for each number.


Duck races have anywhere from 500 to 100,000 at the country’s largest duck regatta in Cincinnati.

  • Find a suitable creek, river, lake or pond to hold the event. You’ll need something with at least some current. Get the necessary permits or permission to use the water.


  • Find sponsors who are willing to donate prizes. Ask for cash prizes, goods (TVs, cameras, dinners), services (day spa, car tune), trips, etc. The nicer the prizes the more potential ducks you can sell. Also, the more prizes you find the more winners you can have.
  • Advertise through TV, radio and newspapers. The media will almost always run a story about duck racing. Post flyers on community bulletin boards, and high traffic areas like grocery stores and malls. Advertise using social media like Facebook.


List the charity or cause, the race details, the prize list, and where ducks can be adopted.

  • Pre-sell ducks in your community. Ask co-workers, friends, neighbors, etc. to “adopt” a duck. Sell bulk “quack packs” (10 or more ducks at a discount). Sell special duck packages: “The Quacker” (20 ducks, dinner for two) to businesses for $50. “The Big Quack” (30 ducks, 2-night hotel stay, duck souvenirs) for $150.


Get area businesses to compete against each other. Enlist the financial or volunteer support from organizations like Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, and others. 

Also, ask local businesses to sell ducks. This will make it easy for people in the community to buy them.

  • Number each duck with a black marker on the outside so contestants can see their ducks. Depending on how many you have, it may be easiest to put the ducks in large trash bags. This will make it easy to transport and dump them into the water.


  • Enlist a local celebrity (sportsperson, TV or radio personality, civic leader) to act as the race’s emcee. The emcee can “call” the race and make special announcements throughout.
  •  Have a clear start and finish line by hanging a yellow banner across the creek at both ends. Make a V-shape finish line by stringing a rope across the water with brightly-colored swimming noodles. The V will be your funnel for the winning ducks.  


  •  Have volunteers in kayaks and canoes along the route to “wrangle” any stray or stuck ducks back on course. And have a few at the finish recording the results. You may want a photographer on-hand to capture a “photo finish” if needed.

Additional Entertainment

Give the community even more to quack about. Make it a carnival atmosphere by having face painters, temporary tattoo artists, and games for the kids.

Find a band that is willing to donate their time to entertain the crowds.

Additional Revenue Opportunities

Now that you’ve attracted people to your race, let’s look at some ways to make additional fundraising income at the event.

    • Sell advertising space on the start/finish banners
    • Sell food and drinks
    • Raffle prizes
    • Hold a silent auction
    • Have chair massages with proceeds split with masseuses